Today’s post is actually my first time hosting a guest blogger on my site! I’m very excited to have Stephanie Ann Adams share her insights about managing your counseling practice more effectively. She runs a private practice, has written a book for beginning counselors, hosted a telesummit, and blogs about all things counseling, both business and counseling related. The plethora of information I gained from her telesummit has helped with running my therapy business efficiently. Here’s a bit of her story and how you can learn from her mistakes. If this leaves you wanting more, make sure you link to her program MBA in Private Practice provided below.
Have you ever felt like you are making all the wrong moves in your private practice, no matter how hard you try?
Or maybe you feel like you’re doing everything “they” tell you to do, and are still not where you want to be with your business?
I was there a few years back when I started my private practice. Private practice was the fallback option for me then, because my husband was in school, and we only planned on living in that area for 2 years. The first thing I tried to do was look for a job, but everything fell through. I had done my internship in a private practice setting, so when all else failed, I thought I’d just give it a try on my own!
Looking back now, I am so glad I took that leap, because I’m now in a “job” I love, working flexible hours, having time to donate to my passions, and making connections in the community. But if I’d known back then how hard it would be to take a crash-course in the business of private practice, I don’t know if I would have been able to do it!
For the next two years, I proceeded to sabotage myself and my business in a multitude of ways. To tell you the truth, sometimes it embarrasses me to look back and see all the stupid things I did. But the reality is, at the time, I had no idea these things were bad for me. Without training in the dynamics of business (a subject notably absent in our counselor curriculum) you have no way of knowing what you’re doing wrong. You’ll just keep digging yourself in deeper until one of two things happens: you hit rock bottom or someone stops you and says, “Hey. There’s another way.”
I am well-versed in the former method, and I do not recommend it. Instead, today I purpose to help you avoid some of those pitfalls and experience success more quickly.
There are several ways I noticed, much further down the line, that I had been sabotaging my private practice. I spoke about them in detail at the 2013 Mind Your Own Business Virtual Conference for counselors in my training, “9 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Private Practice (And How To Stop).”
But today I’m just going to hit on three BIG ones- the ones that I want you to know about RIGHT AWAY so you can stop what you’re doing and find a more helpful path earlier than I did.
Sabotage #1: Not Training Yourself In Business.
We went through extensive training to become counselors. Why wouldn’t we do the same when we want to open up a private practice, which is, of course, a business? I think it’s because we just don’t know we should do that until it’s almost too late. We realize we need to educate ourselves in business after we’ve already paid too much for the wrong marketing materials or quit our agency job.
If you plan on opening a private practice and you don’t educate yourself in business and marketing, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Period.
Quick Action Step: Some of my favorite marketing writers are Seth Godin, Dan Kennedy, and David P. Diana. Check out some of their books at your local library or subscribe to their blogs.
Sabotage #2: Limiting Yourself
I can’t lie to you – private practice is HARD. But if you don’t think you can hack it, that you can’t grow to amazing heights, then you’re wrong.
For an under-30-year-old, I’ve done quite a bit. I’ve written a book, started a successful networking group, led a virtual summit attended by close to 700 people, and started my own business counseling and coaching other counselors. Is any of this because I’m any better than any of you? Absolutely not. All of you have JUST as much to offer if not MORE, but might not even realize how you’re limiting yourself.
There are smart, low-risk ways to try out your dreams in the real world. With faith and persistence, there’s no reason that you can’t achieve everything you want to in your private practice.
Quick Action Step: What’s the one dream you’ve always had for your private practice that you’ve held back on doing? Try looking at the end result you’re wanting and tracing backwards all the ways you could make it happen. You’ll be amazed to see how much more possible it seems when you do that .
Sabotage #3: Waiting Until It’s Perfect
Sometimes I wish I could attend a Perfectionist’s Anonymous group, but then I remember that if there was such a thing, no one would ever come – they’d be waiting to find the outfit that was “just right” and the best time of day for everyone to attend. There’s always something wrong with every plan. But what I’ve found out is that you get a LOT closer to your goals when you jump in and try things out then when you let yourself get stuck in the “tinkering” stage trying to get your private practice plan just right. There are some problems you just can’t see until you get started, and some SOLUTIONS that won’t show themselves until you really need them. The longer you wait to make your plan perfect that is that many more years you spend NOT living your dream.
Quick Action Step: What aspect of your private practice have you been waiting to perfect before you get started? What’s the worst that could happen if you just did it instead
Did you recognize yourself in any of these self-sabotaging actions? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve made all these mistakes, and more, and I know plenty of other counselors who have done the same thing. But here’s the good news: as long as you don’t give up on yourself, you can overcome any of these problems and claim your ideal private practice.
Stephanie A. Adams, MA, LPC is currently working with ideal clients in her Dallas area private practice and blogging for her social networking site, Beginning Counselor: Growing Happy, Healthy New Counselors. Because she cares deeply for training other counselors to be successful in business (or maybe just thought 2 jobs wasn’t enough) she recently launched MBA In Private Practice, comprehensive business training for the counselor serious about their private practice success. She can be reached at Stephanie@stephanieadamslpc.com.
Get the full mp3 audio version of this training, 9 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Private Practice (And How To Stop) AND the 30 Days To A More Profitable Private Practice free series at mbainprivatepractice.com. (The audio training is a special hidden gift within the series…you won’t get it right away but I promise it’s worth the wait!)